Plants Poisonous to Cats

Full Length Portrait Of Cat Relaxing By Houseplant
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Many people enjoy keeping plants in their homes. They can be decorative, fun to care for, and good for air quality. However, you may not realize that some of these plants are dangerous to cats. Your cat may be indoors and safe from outdoor plant dangers, but don't forget that certain indoor plants may cause harm if your cat eats or chews on them. Anyone who knows cats knows that most of them love to nibble on plants. Unfortunately, some plants can make cats sick.

Learn which house plants you should keep out of your cat's reach. It's a good idea to avoid keeping dangerous plants in your home, even if you think they are out of your cat's reach. Here is a list of popular house plants that may poison your cat.

House Plants that are Toxic To Cats

Plant Common Name Effects/Symptoms
Amaryllis Stomach and intestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea)
Azalea Incoordination, trembling, collapse
Aloe Vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea
Cactus Puncture of skin/mouth, infections
Caladium Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shaking head, difficulty breathing
Dieffenbachia Burning and irritation of mouth/tongue/lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and trouble swallowing
English Ivy Vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, abdominal pain
Lilies Vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, kidney failure, death
Mistletoe Ingesting berries can cause vomiting, diarrhea, blistering in the mouth, difficulty breathing

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Peace Lily Burning and irritation of mouth/tongue/lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, trouble swallowing
Philodendron Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shaking head, difficulty breathing
Poinsettia Same as Mistletoe
Pothos Burning and irritation of mouth/tongue/lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, trouble swallowing
Sago Palm Vomiting, increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising, blood clotting issues, liver damage, death

Amaryllis

The Amaryllis is a beautiful red flower that is often grown indoors in the winter from bulbs. This flowering plant develops bright red trumpet-shaped blossoms that are a pleasure to look at.

Unfortunately, the Amaryllis contains toxic substances like lycorine that is poisonous to cats if eaten. Ingestion can lead to excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, lethargy, and tremors. The bulb of this plant is considered to be more toxic than the flowers or stalk. Other names for the Amaryllis include Cape Belladonna, Belladonna, Naked Lady, and Saint Joseph Lily.

Aloe Vera

Although it is used by humans as a remedy for burns and even added to drinks for its potential health benefits, aloe vera can be toxic to cats if ingested. Toxicity is mild to moderate and is caused by saponins and anthraquinones in the plant. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.

Cactii

Most cactii are not actually poisonous to cats. However, eating this the fibrous plant material can cause significant irritation to your cat's gastrointestinal tract. Spikes may puncture the skin and mouth, leading to infection. Consumption may lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

Caladium

This popular flowering houseplant may go by many names, including Angel Wings, Candidum, Elephant's Ears, Exposition, Malanga, Mother-in-law Plant, Stoplight, Seagull, Pink Cloud, and Texas Wonder. The toxic compounds are insoluble calcium oxalates. Ingestion in cats may lead to oral irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and trouble swallowing.

Dieffenbachia

Also known as Charming Dieffenbachia, Giant Dumb Cane, Tropic Snow, Dumbcane, Exotica, Spotted Dumb Cane, Exotica Perfection, this popular houseplant can harm cats if eaten. Toxicity is caused by insoluble calcium oxalates and proteolytic enzymes. Signs of toxicity include burning and irritation of mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and trouble swallowing.

English Ivy

Also called Branching Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, and California Ivy, English Ivy is sometimes kept as a houseplant. It may be kept by itself or a feature of a pot arrangement. Unfortunately, triterpenoid saponins in the plant may cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, and abdominal pain if eaten by cats. The leaves of the plant are more toxic than the berries.

Lilies

All lilies in the Liliaceae family can be toxic to cats if ingested. Cats with lily poisoning may have vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy. Without treatment, the cat may go into kidney failure or even die. All parts of these plants can cause toxicity.

Mistletoe

Also called American Mistletoe, this plant contains lectins and phoratoxins that poison cats if ingested. Cats that eat mistletoe berries or leaves can develop vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, low heart rate, trouble breathing, and neurologic problems.

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

Also called the Snake Plant, Golden Bird's Nest, and Good Luck Plant, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue contains saponins that may lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in cats.

Peace Lily

Also known as the Mauna Loa Peace Lily, this popular houseplant is not actually in the Liliaceae family. However, insoluble calcium oxalates still make this plant toxic to cats (though not as toxic as real lilies). Signs include burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and trouble swallowing.

Philodendron

The philodendron is another popular houseplant that contains insoluble calcium oxalates. Cats that eat this plant may experience oral irritation, pain, and swelling, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

Poinsettia

Many people are aware that Poinsettia plants can be harmful to dogs. However, this is probably one of the least dangerous plants on this list. Poinsettias are not truly poisonous. However, the sap in these plants, when ingested, can cause vomiting and oral irritation. It's still best to keep Poinsettias out of reach to keep your dog from experiencing unpleasant effects after nibbling on the flowers or leaves.

Pothos

Pothos is a very popular houseplant and many people don't realize it can harm cats. Other names for this plant include Ivy Arum, Golden Pothos, Taro Vine, and Devil's Ivy. Insoluble calcium oxalates in this plant cause oral burning and irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, and trouble swallowing.

Sago Palm

Sago Palm is more common outdoors, but many people enjoy keeping a potted Sago Palm in their home. Unfortunately, this plant is highly toxic to cats (also to dogs). Other names for the Sago Palm include Coontie Palm, Cardboard Palm, Cycads, and Zamias. The toxic principle of this plant is cycasin. Ingestion can lead to vomiting, digested blood in the stool (melena), increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising, blood clotting problems, liver damage, and death.

If You Think Your Cat Has Been Poisoned

You must act quickly if you suspect your cat has been exposed to a dangerous plant. Keep a list of important phone numbers in a visible, easily accessible location. Save the numbers to your ​cell phone as well. Be sure that pet sitters and other people who might be in your home are aware of the location of the list. Include the following phone numbers:

  • Your primary veterinarian
  • One or more nearby 24-hour veterinary emergency clinics
  • ASPCA Poison Control: (888) 426-4435 (possible fee)
  • Pet Poison Hotline: 800-213-6680 (possible fee)
  • An emergency contact number for you and your dog's co-owner (if applicable).
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.